By Sarah Doherty
Being a teenage girl at an all-girls school isn’t as easy as one may think. Life revolves around the latest teen gossip, the reading material mainly consisted of glossy magazines that “taught” you all-important life skills like the top ten ways to kiss (poor blokes who these tips were tested on; we are very sorry) and films that were mainly talked about generally featured Lindsay Lohan or Freddie Prinze Jr.
You are probably wondering why I am telling you all this, but don’t worry; it will all become clear, I promise.
As a kid, I spent most of my time in my friend’s shed playing video games for countless hours. Sure, we were freezing cold in a tiny wooden shed in Ireland with our almost-blue fingers gripped tightly around our Gameboy Advances, but the experiences in these games kept us warm… well, that was until the pneumonia kicked in. Some of my earliest memories are playing games with my family; Mortal Kombat on the Sega with Dad, Zelda on the N64 with my cousin, and playing Kingdom Hearts on the PS2 with my brother and best friend in the holiday caravan.
“I openly talked about my love for video games. To my surprise, teenage girls back in the early 2000s were not the right audience for such topics”
My life revolved around playing games. Nothing could take that love from me – until high school, that was.
During my first year at school, I openly talked about my love for video games. To my surprise, teenage girls back in the early 2000s were not the right audience for such topics. Soon I became a “freak”; I was never badly bullied, but the name floated around me for a few weeks. That was it, I thought. Games were stopping me from fitting in, so it was time to put this love affair to an end. It was a tough break up; I went back every now and then, playing the odd browser game whilst looking over my shoulder in school, sometimes I’d quickly flick through the games magazine to catch up on some of the latest bite size news before buying the snogathon bibles like everyone else. MSN messenger replaced games, mobile phones replaced my Gameboy and my Lindsay Lohan film collection swept Zelda and Sub Zero to the side.
This “fitting in” phase went on for a few years. I hated it, but it made my school life easier and it meant I had friends to hang out with after school. Still, I knew I was missing something.
One afternoon I was in town, obviously seeking out “Snogalicious” issue 17, when I saw it. The Game That Changed My Life. The cover was amazing; this young, good-looking man – was he an adventurer? Maybe a hero? Then under him like mirror was a demon, a devil; maybe a villain?
Fable II. I knew I must have it.
I bought myself an Xbox 360, popped in the disc and waited patiently for the title screen to load up. I was greeted back to gaming by the fantastic Fable II, and what a greeting it was.
I will always remember the immense release in my chest the moment I returned to video gaming. Nothing will ever replace that feeling of running through Albion, wielding my new sword, powering up my spells and readying my crossbow, begging for action. It was me and my dog (my virtual husband was at home yearning for a drink yet loyally caring for our creepy-looking child); we roamed the lands, we cleared out bandit camps, we conversed with ghosts, and we sliced and diced up some wolverines. It was a true adventure.
“Nothing will ever replace that feeling of running through Albion, wielding my new sword, powering up my spells and readying my crossbow, begging for action”
I still to this very day adore Fable II; the humour made me laugh, the heartfelt moments brought tears to my eyes and the enemies kept me at the edge of my seat. Every now and then I make sure I go back to play it just as a thanks for bringing me back to a life that I missed. A life filled with games.
Fable II saved me from a life I would have hated; it zapped me from a world where underage drinking and teenage pregnancy were the only things that happened in our area. It teleported me away from binge-drinking and drugs. I look back at the girls that called me a “freak” and I’m forever grateful that games gave me a good life.
Like Fable, I was given the choice between good and bad and you know what?
It was the best choice I have ever made.